DraftKings Plays: Week 4
Each Friday this column will offer a lineup tailored for play in cash games offered by DraftKings (Head-to-Head, or 50/50 contests), followed by some thoughts on higher-variance upside shots for use in tournaments (GPP). The previous week’s recommended cash game lineup will be reviewed at the bottom.
Players in the cash games lineup are chosen primarily with strong salary value, significant projected touch volume, and favorable matchups that occur in games with a high Vegas over/under. The quest for a high statistical floor will be a common theme.
Don’t forget to check out our customizable Daily Fantasy Tool, available to Gold subscribers through a link on the weekly projections page. It quickly combines PFF Fantasy’s weekly projections with DraftKings and FanDuel pricing to give a head start when setting your lineups.
QB: Colin Kaepernick ($7,600) vs Philadelphia Eagles (50.5)
He’s the ninth-most expensive passer during a week in which the 49ers are expected to score roughly 27 points. They’ll come mostly through the air, as the Eagles boast the third highest-graded run defense (+14.9), along with soft outside coverage and a weak pass rush. They led the league in plays surrendered last year, and so far teams are averaging nearly eight more snaps when they play Philadelphia than when they don’t. Kaepernick has rushed 21 times for 120 yards over the last two weeks, providing a solid floor even if he doesn’t use his arm to roast a defense that’s surrendering the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
RB: Donald Brown ($5,400) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (45)
Vegas expects the Chargers to score nearly 30 points and win by two touchdowns. Against a Jaguars defense that has surrendered the most points to fantasy running backs, game flow will dictate another heavy load for the sole proven member of San Diego’s backfield. Guaranteed volume is the name of the DFS cash game – especially when the player in question is the 17th-most expensive at his position. It will be worth noting if his pass route per target rate stays as low as it currently is (4.0), or if those looks go elsewhere now that Brown is the lead back. He also posted a 5.4 rate while with the Colts last year, roughly the same as Matt Forte’s 2013 mark (5.3).
RB: Matt Asiata ($4,500) vs Atlanta Falcons (46.5)
This is actually the fourth-highest projected over/under of the week, and Asiata offers sneaky value while also providing salary cap flexibility. Atlanta’s run defense is improved, but it’s not good (-2.1; 20th). That was apparent when they were run over on the two occasions they faced strong offensive lines, before their Thursday Night Football flaying of the Buccaneers. The Falcons also surrendered 18 catches on 21 targets, for 201 yards, to the three starting running backs they’ve faced. Asiata is averaging a target for every 2.9 pass routes he’s run (14/40) and will provide rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with a reliable safety valve during the passer’s first career start.
WR: Michael Crabtree ($6,400) vs Philadelphia Eagles (50.5)
Piggybacking the Kaepernick play in what should be a shootout, Crabtree has quietly been the fifth-highest scoring PPR wideout since returning to full health two weeks ago (22.8 points per game). The Eagles give up the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers, versus just the 18th-most to tight ends. Offenses have been devouring them from the outside-in, partly due to their strong slot coverage. Even though Crabtree runs less than one-in-three of his routes from the slot (lowest of SF’s top-3 wideouts), he’s scored twice while lining up there. He’ll find himself in right cornerback Cary Williams’ coverage often, and that’s a comfortable place for wideouts to be (-3.7 coverage grade; 86th-“best”).
WR: Brandin Cooks ($5,300) at Dallas Cowboys (53.5)
Cooks’ slot snaps have gone from 11, to 12, and to five last week against the Vikings. That doesn’t mean he won’t see any of Dallas’ slot cornerback Orlando Scandrick, but they won’t meet too often. That’s a good thing since the Cowboys’ two outside cornerbacks rank as PFF’s 91st and 93rd-“best” in coverage. In truth Cooks is targeted all over, with roughly a third of his 23 targets coming behind the line of scrimmage, and another third deeper than 10 yards downfield. While he hasn’t broken a long play yet, it’s coming. In the meantime, the 12th-most catches on the 24th-most targets have made him the 17th-highest scoring PPR wideout. This week Cooks is an uber-high floor/ceiling combo play.
WR: Golden Tate ($4,700) at New York Jets (45)
His price dropped by $300 after catching five of six targets for 51 yards as a popular value play in Week 3’s most head-scratching outcome. If insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, why in the name of Titus Young are we riding Calvin Johnson’s sidekick again? Well, Megatron might be hobbled by a bad ankle. Plus opportunity will be there since New York’s run defense is about as pregnable as a nunnery, averaging 2.8 yards surrendered (best) on just 58 attempts (least). Tate primarily operates out of the slot (61% of snaps), and Kyle Wilson has allowed a 139.6 quarterback rating while covering there. Tate’s hauled in 16 receptions (tied-16th among WR) at an 84.2 percent rate and provides an affordably stable floor.
TE: Jimmy Graham ($7,500) at Dallas Cowboys (53.5)
This one is really simple. He’s the best tight end against the worst tight end defense, in the highest over/under game of the week. Fading him means that when he goes off a significant portion of your competition will gain ground on your roster, because everyone will be in on Graham. Don’t overthink it, get cute with your GPP lineups instead …and pay that man his money.
FLEX: Eddie Lacy ($5,600) at Chicago Bears (50)
Lacy’s certainly had issues so far. He’s averaged nearly a full yard per carry less than last year (3.2) and currently ranks as the 42nd-best PPR running back. A lot of that can be explained away by his facing three of the toughest run defenses in the league, and we can point to his yards after contact per attempt of 2.51 actually eclipsing last year’s 2.28 mark. However he is losing touches to James Starks and DuJuan Harris, and has not played particularly well. No matter. The Packers will want to get the run game straightened out against a defense that’s even softer in the middle than Lacy, who is also dirt cheap this week. Sometimes it’s best to just trust what’s being served, close your eyes …and eat.
DEF: Detroit Lions ($3,000) at New York Jets (45)
Whether it’s due to a dearth of weapons, typical growing pains (4 interceptions, 2 fumbles), or just bad luck (5 dropped passes), Geno Smith is mistake-prone. He’s 19th in completion percentage, 30th in PFF’s quarterback rating (73.2), and 35th in accuracy percentage under pressure. The Jets will struggle to run on Detroit (21st-rated run blocking versus 6th-rated run defense), and this game will fall on Smith. He’s 26th in deep ball accuracy and has nobody (healthy) that threatens defenses downfield even when he shoots straight. With just five days to recover from a game in which he pretty much wet himself, Smith is getting thrown to the Lions – who’ve already chewed-up three far better quarterbacks.
Total Salary: $50,000
The over/under in the Tampa Bay/Pittsburgh game has risen a point and a half since it opened, and it won’t be shocking to see even more scoring than that. The defenses have struggled from a lack of talent, health, or both. The Steelers even pulled old frienemy James Harrison off the scrap heap, and he may help with the run stopping (+13.0 run defense grade last year), but not the pass rush (-2.4). That’s key for Mike Glennon, who was the most sacked passer during the 13 weeks he played last year. Yet with no pressure he averaged 7.4 yards per attempt, with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions (101.4 QBR). In fact, Glennon thrived in the handful of games he faced bad pass defenses, and he now has a better offense around him. With a full week to prepare for what might be a surprisingly high-scoring game, the 20th-most expensive quarterback ($5,900) might be a better punt pick for tournaments than similarly priced Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater.
C.J. Spiller continues to frustrate, and unfortunately this week will be no different. Or maybe it will? That’s the maddening part, and despite a seemingly strong matchup against a defense that struggles against fantasy running backs (10th-most generous), it’s still tough to recommend him. Last week 60 percent of his carries came between the tackles, and he earned less than half of Buffalo’s rushing attempts (45%). Fred Jackson had fewer carries, but seven more targets (10 vs 3), and reversed an early-season trend that saw him barely earning 50 percent of snaps (64.3% Week 3). Snaps will be at a premium when the Bills visit the Texans, and good luck to those that are confident enough to wager on how Buffalo’s share will be divided up.
If you’re searching for a minimal salaried receiver to afford some budget flexibility elsewhere, you could do worse than Jeremy Kerley ($3,500) of the Jets. With Eric Decker hobbled, he saw a whopping 10 targets – something that hasn’t happened since 2012. Kerley ran the fourth-most slot routes in the league last week (27). With a slot percentage of 77 so far this year, it’s a good bet that he’ll see plenty of time there against Detroit in a game that the Jets will need to throw to move the ball. The Lions have surrendered 10 catches on 16 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown to slot receivers this year. Decker may give it a go, but with only five days to get right after his hamstring forced him out of the game on Monday night, Kerley is again looking at a high-volume day.
There’s little chance that Rob Gronkowski is again going to be as cheap as he is right now ($5,700) as long as he continues his steady climb toward full health. There’s also little chance that everyone and their grandmother hasn’t thought that same exact thing when setting hopefully high-ceiling tournament lineups. By all means get some Gronk shares in a few GPP lineups, either in the tight end slot or at Flex, but you’ll need to differentiate your roster elsewhere.
Someone that probably won’t get a lot of love is the 13th-highest salaried tight end, Heath Miller. He faces a Tampa Bay defense that’s surrendered the 15th-most fantasy points to tight ends, although that’s been muted by giving up zero to Atlanta, one week after allowing four-catches (4 target) for 46 yards to Jared Cook. Way back in Week 1, Greg Olsen tortured Tampa with eight receptions (11 targets) for 83 yards and a score – with Derek Anderson as his quarterback. Dashon Goldson (71st-ranked safety) and Mark Barron (75th) are at the bottom of the coverage grade barrel, and along with Lavonte David (22nd-ranked coverage 4-3 OLB), haven’t broken up many tight end targets. Miller finally saw his first two red-zone looks last week, and pairing him with the 11th-most expensive quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger ($6,900), makes for an interesting contrarian stack.
Last Week’s Lineup
Drew Brees (19.52) – Just the 12th-most pass attempts and 25th-deepest aDOT left us wanting more.
Khiry Robinson (6.90) – The 18 carries were nice, but zero targets and goal line attempts disappointed.
Zac Stacy (17.10) – After 69 yards on 7 touches in the first quarter, he saw just 10 touches for 52 yards.
Pierre Garcon (33.80) – His Week 3-leading 16 targets were a whopping 34 percent of Washington’s looks.
Golden Tate (10.10) – He managed to salvage a usable point total despite gonzo game script.
Larry Fitzgerald (5.40) – Five points feel like a blessing after he was pulling a “Colston” in the first half.
Martellus Bennett (22.40) – My next born will be named The White Unicorn.
Giovani Bernard (18.40) – Another successful week for #TeamGio. Only bye weeks can stop him.
New England Patriots (6.00) – Patriots endeavored to prove you can beat the Raiders in your sleep.
Total Points Scored – 139.62
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman